Tuesday, November 12, 2013

The Tantric Principle in Lucid Dreaming

An aspect of my own lucid dreaming experience has been the concurrent activation of powerful energy and sound, which in the East is referred to as the kundalini. Just two nights ago, I meditated at 5 am, and then returned to bed for a while. As I drifted into a half-sleep, the energy awakened. At first it sounded like wind coming in waves, as usual. But as I meditated on it, it increased in intensity and became a constant flow, flattening out instead of coming in pulses. (When I was younger, this would be uncomfortable, but at this stage in my life, it is quite pleasant.) As I meditated on the energy, trying to put aside my ego assessment of what was happening, I noticed that my field of vision was brightening and revealing a subtle lattice-like pattern as it became whiter and whiter. Meanwhile, I was aware of dreaming, as well. I was lying down on the slope of a hill, with a couple of colleagues who were waiting with me for entrance into a conference where we would speak or teach.

When I was younger, the activation of this sound-energy would often escalate into a full-blown kundalini activation. That is, a full-body vibratory experience of light and ecstasy. This still happens, but not as often. More recently, the activation has usually stopped with the flat flowing sound. At the moment that it flattens out, I discover that I can roll out of my body and enter into a fully conscious lucid dream/out of body experience. Robert Monroe, in his book Journeys Out of the Body, said that without first awakening this sound/energy, he could not leave his body. I have found this to be so true.

What can we make of this energy experience as a component of the lucid dream? As early as 1974, when I wrote my master's thesis on lucid dreaming, I suggested that lucidity and the white light were subjective and objective aspects of the same thing; that is, heightened consciousness. The Tibetan tantric system gives us more insight into the relationship between consciousness and energy by stating that the two are interchangeable, or reciprocally related. This means that any movement in consciousness has a corresponding movement in energy, and vice versa. Lucid dreamers do not always report a concurrent energy experience. Indeed, in my experience, it is relatively rare. Perhaps some lucid dreamers simply do not experience the energy as much as others do. But in the tibetan tradition, dream yoga is considered one of six accelerated yogas - accelerated because they involve activation of the kundalini. Well, this is good news and bad news, because the kundalini awakens dormant memories, some of which are disturbing and heretofore repressed or at least forgotten. Thus the energy component "forces the issue" into consciousness, and thus can result in destabilization of the ego as it confronts necessary unfinished business and emerging archetypal forces. All good in the long run, certainly. But in the short term, it can awaken fear as the ego struggles to retain is supremacy.

In the Tibetan tradition, meditation is treated as a slower, but less destabilizing approach to enlightenment. By focusing on awareness, the energy awakens, but only a a byproduct of mental activity. This approach (mahamuudra) is advocated unless the seeker has a guru who can oversee the dynamic process of kundalini awakening.

For myself, I believe I've had a rather rough ride over the past 40 years of meditation, lucid dreaming, and kundalini awakening. I wouldn't trade it for anything, but I have grown to respect the power of unseen forces, and counsel  others to take a more cautious approach, especially if their journey includes frequent kundalini awakenings alongside the quest for lucidity.

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