By Daniel Scharpenburg
This is from the mind training teachings called Lojong.
See Everything As A Dream
This is the Lojong teaching that comes from the section on Bodhicitta, or the mind of awakening and compassion. Slogans 2-10 are considered part of this section, so we will be talking about Bodhicitta for awhile, and the next few slogans will have similar themes.
Everything is coming and going all the time. That’s a simple fact of life. We can pretend we don’t know that, we can try to hide from it, but it’s true and it’s unavoidable.
Emptiness is a concept that’s talked about sometimes in Buddhism. I don’t think that means there’s nothing, but that’s how people interpret it sometimes. I think it means there’s nothing to hold onto. We’re always trying to grab at things, to hold onto them. But we can’t.
Life is but a dream and in an instant we are gone. That’s it. Like a flash of lightning.
Try catching the beginning of any thought or sensation. See if you can. Also try to catch the end. You just can’t. They come and then they are gone. Life has a dreamlike quality to it, if you really pay attention.
When we train in this slogan and practice repeating it to ourselves, it can change things for us. When we’re depressed or angry, when the kids won’t stop running inside and the ex is giving us some trouble, or when we’re having a tough day at work or traffic is ridiculous, we can remember to see everything as a dream. When we do this, our minds come to a clear awareness and we can maybe start to lighten up a little. It’s easier than it sounds, I promise. But you have to work hard at it too.
Practice sitting with the slogan in your regular meditation for a few days and see how it goes. If it comes to mind when you need it, then it can be very helpful. Whatever is going on….this too shall pass.
Chogyam Trungpa said, “Nothing ever happens. But because nothing happens, everything happens.” That’s how seeing things as a dream is empowering.
It’s helpful in our meditation practice too. You know, you’re sitting on your cushion trying to follow the breath or your favorite mantra and those damn thoughts keep popping into your head.
“Is the timer broken?” “What am I having for dinner?” “I’m bored.”
If we see them as dreams, then we realize an important thing about our thoughts. Every thought we’re having—every thought we’ve ever had—is our own mental construct. We make our thoughts.
If we can realize that, then we can see that we have power over them. Training the mind is about having power over our thoughts.
Want to know more about Lojong? Read: Training the Heart and Mind
Want to know more about how meditation helps with anxiety? Read: Using Buddhism to Deal with Anxiety
Editor: Dana Gornall