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This question is prompted by reading the 23rd Minor Precept in the Brahma Net Sutra

After my passing, if a disciple should, with a wholesome mind, wish to receive the Bodhisattva precepts, he may make a vow to do so before the images of Buddhas and Bodhisattvas and practice repentance before these images for seven days. If he then experiences a vision, he has received the precepts. If he does not, he should continue doing so for fourteen days, twenty-one days, or even a whole year, seeking to witness an auspicious sign. After witnessing such a sign, he could, in front of images of Buddhas and Bodhisattvas, formally receive the precepts.

At the modern moment, the normal advice regarding dreams and visions is to ignore them. So while I appreciate the concern, I'm not mainly trying to get advice about what to do about dreams and visions.

What I see, in the above text is a positive perspective on dreams and visions, but the author assumes the reader knows what he's talking about when he says "vision"-- is this a reference to dreams, near-hallucinations during meditation, or "signs" like seeing something remarkable like crows listening to a dharma talk? Is this a reference to dream yoga that I hear about in Vajrayana?

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No, dream yoga is rather different. Dream yoga is about using the dreams as settings for spiritual practice. For example, because I used to be a relatively shy person, I was afraid of confronting/challenging difficult people directly. So for a period of time, my dream yoga was to yell at, and even fight with, the characters of my dreams, as to go through the mental/emotional block. Just one of the more straightforward examples.

The visions they are talking about above, are simple hints from the world of spirit/energy/information filtered by your subconscious, such as when you see Buddha's profile on a rock under your feet, or overhear a phrase that speaks directly to your problem etc. It could even be an actual vision in a dream, but the principal difference from dream yoga is that visions come spontaneously, while dream yoga involves deliberate action on your side.

Of course, both rely on the same mechanisms behind the scenes. At the end of the day, it's all about setting up your intent to engage the subconscious.

It's not like I'm a real expert in the above, but I've done enough practice with the both over the years to at least have some idea of what is what...

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Good question. Most Buddhist teachers do advise us to try to ignore dreams and visions. Hard to do, sometimes. Still, in some places, they do place credence on dreams. During the Kalachakra Initiation, a 2 or 3-day affair, after the first day's teachings, the student is advised to try to remember his dream from that night. [http://www.berzinarchives.com/web/x/nav/n.html_554862326.html] The common factor between your question and the above, perhaps, is that a Boddhisatva or a Buddha is presemed to be giving the initiation, and perhaps the dream, too. There is also a Dream Yoga practice in the "Six Yogas of Naropa" practices. [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dream_yoga]. In the advanced practice of the Completion Stage of the Mahamudra, the Six Yogas are practiced. One of them is the Dream Yoga practice, which is, again, only useful for advanced practioners. [http://www.berzinarchives.com/web/en/archives/advanced/mahamudra/karma_kagyu_mm/commentary_aspiration_prayer_definitive_meaning_mm/mm_prayer_commentary_02.html?query=six+yogas+of+naropa] Hope that helps. ps. I tried to make a comment on your Brahma Net Project site, but for some reason the FaceBook login does not work on the network where I work. And I can not figure out how to get an account on your site. Maybe you need an "how to get an BNP site account for dummies page" there. Thanks.

  • Okay, I liberalized the sign up rules for the forum. Here's a link-- brahmanetproject.wakayos.com Sign up links on the right, should still be able to use facebook auth as a means to sign in. – MatthewMartin Aug 2 '14 at 21:19

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