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Is there any meaning given to dreams of the Buddha? For example is it considered an omen a sign or meaningless ...?

EDIT: Sorry i have to change the edit back to the Buddha instead of Bodhisattva.My question is about someone dreaming of The Buddha.As in Buddha,the fully enlightened being.Not a Bodhisattva.Not a dream about Sidhattha.But a dream of the Buddha.

My question is,Is there any meaning given to dreams of the Buddha in Buddhism.For example if you dreamt of The Buddha would it be considered an omen,a sign or meaningless.

Thank you

  • Thanks a bunch everyone for share, any input to advice and share are helpful to me. I am so glad to learn from everyone. I am grateful to have good dream. And I had dream liked this quite often. And it's came true, in many difference form . In my dream received jade Buddha in hands, shine in lighth green. I think , the dream is symbolic and try to contact me as the right direction. So, it's came true every times. I am greatful, and thanks a bunch to be me and share . MERRY MEET. Many bless to everyone. – UMA Kelleher Jun 21 '17 at 16:55
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The dreams Bodhisatta had about his future Buddhahoood are given in the Supina Sutta.

"When the Tathagata — worthy & rightly self-awakened — was still just an unawakened bodhisatta, five great dreams appeared to him. Which five?

"When the Tathagata — worthy & rightly self-awakened — was still just an unawakened bodhisatta, this great earth was his great bed. The Himalayas, king of mountains, was his pillow. His left hand rested in the eastern sea, his right hand in the western sea, and both feet in the southern sea. When the Tathagata — worthy & rightly self-awakened — was still just an unawakened bodhisatta, this was the first great dream that appeared to him....

You might also be interested in knowing the meanings of the dreams, queen Maya(mother of the Bodhisatta) saw.

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    Hi Sankha. I think Orion's original question meant what do dreams of the Buddha mean to people after the time of the Buddha. For e.g. if you dream of the Buddha, is it considered good omen or sign etc.? – ruben2020 Mar 27 '15 at 22:09
  • Not sure about that! But she can revert modifications, if that's the case. – Sankha Kulathantille Mar 27 '15 at 22:41
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Here is an analysis of the Buddhist approach to dreams. Just quoting the conclusion.

C) Conclusion

Following a Buddhist example, how are we supposed to deal with dreams? Do we dismiss them as empty and false, do we diagnose our health from dream symptoms, do we systematically analyze their symbols as an index of our religious practice? Dreams used as a teaching device pointing the way to enlightenment takes a negative approach to a positive goal. The emptying out of both dreams and reality frees the mind from duality and attachments to conditioned states. Perhaps the Buddhist approach to dreams is identical with the path to understanding the purpose of waking life: transforming ignorance by the brilliant sword of Prajna wisdom. We must wake up from our “dream within a dream,” before we can know that we are actually sleeping through our lives. After awakening there is no need to dream any longer.

An interesting contemporary example of a dream about the Buddha, comes from the Theravada Buddhist meditation teacher Dipa Ma:

After her husband died in 1957, and her only surviving child, daughter Dipa, was seven years old, Nani "Dipa Ma", was drowning in sorrow and at the lowest point in her life. One day a doctor said to her: :"You know, you're actually going to die of a broken heart unless you do something about the state of your mind."

Because she was living in Burma, a Buddhist country, he suggested that she learn how to meditate. It was then she had a dream in which the Buddha appeared to her as a luminous presence and softly chanted a verse from the Dhammapada:

Clinging to what is dear brings sorrow, clinging to what is dear brings fear. To one who is entirely free from endearment, there is no sorrow or fear.

Dipa Ma understood the Buddha's advice as a call to master Vipassana meditation.

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In Tibetan Buddhism there is the concept of dream yoga which is a tantric practice within the Bardos of dream and sleep. To quote from wikipedia

Finally, in the sixth stage, the images of deities (Buddhas, Bodhisattvas, or Dakinis) should be visualized in the lucid dream state. [..] They are said to be linked to or resonate with the clear light of the Void. They can therefore serve as symbolic doorways to this mystical state of being (the Void or clear light).

So within this tradition dreams of the Buddha (and Bodhisattvas and other beings) would be an actual practice and would be seen as significant.

However in the Zen tradition there is the koan

If you see the Buddha on the road kill him

I am not a Zen practitioner or have any form of insight into this koan. However Shunryu Suzuki said in Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind

Thinking about the Buddha as an entity or deity is delusion, not awakening. One must destroy the preconception of the Buddha as separate and external before one can become internally as their own Buddha

So I would take from this that dreaming or indeed identifying with the actual entity of the Buddha isn't on the path. Or maybe it is if you are being a Buddha in you dreams. One to think about maybe.

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Interpreting dreams is against a monk's virtue:

"Whereas some brahmans and contemplatives, living off food given in faith, maintain themselves by wrong livelihood, by such lowly arts as:

reading marks on the limbs [e.g., palmistry]; reading omens and signs; interpreting celestial events [falling stars, comets]; interpreting dreams; reading marks on the body [e.g., phrenology]; reading marks on cloth gnawed by mice; offering fire oblations, oblations from a ladle, oblations of husks, rice powder, rice grains, ghee, and oil; offering oblations from the mouth; offering blood-sacrifices; making predictions based on the fingertips; geomancy; laying demons in a cemetery; placing spells on spirits; reciting house-protection charms; snake charming, poison-lore, scorpion-lore, rat-lore, bird-lore, crow-lore; fortune-telling based on visions; giving protective charms; interpreting the calls of birds and animals —

he abstains from wrong livelihood, from lowly arts such as these." (Kevatta Sutta, DN 11)

I don't know what the dream means, it could mean nothing or something but whatever it means would be irrelevant to achieving arahantship.

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https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Four_Right_Exertions

If this works for the awake state, it'll work for dreams too. Or your interpretations of your dreams, subject to honesty.

  • I don't think this is answers the question: "What does Buddhism say about having dreams about the Buddha?" – ChrisW Oct 22 '16 at 16:46
  • There is no reason why the path cannot and should not be applied to dreams, as it is applied to the wake state. Seeing the Buddha in a dream happens. Play chess for three months you see chess in your dreams. I read the Sutta Pitaka often, and I dream of the Buddha sometimes. What matters is what feelings, thoughs, mental constructions arise in you after the dream.. Or during it. – Ilya Grushevskiy Oct 22 '16 at 17:07
  • If the dream inspires you to question how far down the path you are, given a personal perception of 'the end goal', and to find ways to go further, then good. If it builds your ego and makes you comfortable in your place, stops you learning the Dhamma, it's probably not the best. I think MN 126 discusses a similar point. accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/mn/mn.126.than.html – Ilya Grushevskiy Oct 22 '16 at 17:10

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