Pema Chodron on being open, me on lucid dreaming

A couple of weeks ago I blogged about a Chogyam Trungpa quote on balancing attention in meditation. He said, more or less, that your sitting attention is best when it’s divided equally between your meditation technique, relaxing, making friends with yourself, and being open.

I just read a quote from Pema Chodron’s book Start Where You Are: A Guide for Compassionate Living on the topic of being open that I’d like to share.

More simply, regard everything as a dream. Life is a dream. Death is also a dream, for that matter; waking is a dream and sleeping is a dream. Another way to put this is: “Every situation is a passing memory”.

It is said that with these slogans that are pointing to absolute truth – openness – one should not say “Oh, yes, I know,” but that one should just allow a mental gap to open, and wonder, “Could it be? Am I dreaming this?” Pinch yourself. Dreams are just as convincing as waking reality. You could begin to contemplate the fact that things are not as solid or as reliable as they seem.

This reminds me of a time a year or so ago when I had a lucid dream. I knew enough about it to look at my hand, look away, and look back — it had 7 fingers when I looked back, so I knew I was dreaming.

I was curious about appearances in the dream world. With my thumbnail, I scraped some paint off a wooden structure because I wanted to find out what was under the paint in the dream world.

It was solid wood, and my thumbnail hurt a little. Dream reality and waking reality were similar in these ways.

Then I looked off into some trees with a fierce desire to really see what this dream world looked like.

And for a brief moment, all that I saw became vivid, clear, layered, suffused with light and energy as if there were many more dimensions than I had ever perceived. I saw better in the dream world than I ever had in waking reality. It was stunning, beautiful, to see like this.

And then the image faded and I woke up.

(I later learned about the physics of dream reality: if you stare, you exit that reality. You must keep your gaze moving to stay in the dream reality.)

The point here is that to find that ingredient of openness in your meditation, ask yourself if you are dreaming, and be open to not knowing.

Be able to relax into not knowing, and openness deepens. Be able to make friends with not knowing, and openness deepens.

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