• Awake or asleep, life is a dream of our own creation…

About Dream Yoga

Earth SunriseThe goal of dream yoga is to achieve enlightenment.

Tenzen Wangyal

…the waking state is not permanent. It comes and goes every twenty four hours. And yet, according to the great sages, there is something in us that is “always conscious,” that is literally conscious or aware at all times through all states, waking, dreaming, sleeping. And that “ever present awareness is Spirit in us”. That underlying current of constant consciousness (or non-dual awareness) is a direct and unbroken ray of pure Spirit itself. It is our connection with the Goddess, our pipeline straight to God.

Ken Wilber


This site compares one particular form of dream yoga, Integral Deep Listening, not only to Tibetan dream yoga and lucid dreaming, but to various other points of reference, including shamanic vision quests, Hindu, Theravadin, and Chinese dream yogas, psychoanalysis, Jungian, and Gestalt therapies,  Transactional Analysis, NLP, Voice Dialogue, Wilber’s Integral AQAL and Integral Shadow 3-2-1 Process.  It also contains a number of short essays dealing with the relationships of Integral Deep Listening to such areas as meditation, lucid dreaming, dream interpretation, epistemology, art theory, psychopathology, creative problem solving, and phenomenology. For a description of the method itself and detailed information about how it is applied, see IntegralDeepListening.Com. The blog on this site deals with cultural dreams and nightmares, such as war, terrorism, the nature of evil, life after death, religion, and reincarnation.  It also addresses meditation and lucid dreaming on a broad level. The blog at IntegralDeepListening.Com addresses nightmares, health, assertiveness, depression, anxiety, career, interpersonal relationships, spirituality, meditation, and lucid dreaming on a more personal and individual basis.  Entries are being added often, so either check back or join our Twitter feed for updates.  Please feel free to request examples on subjects you are interested in.


Yoga and Integral Deep Listening

(From the text, Dream Yoga)

A “yoga” is any spiritual discipline whose purpose is oneness. The object of all yoga is to wake up: to first experience and then become clear light. A “dream” yoga is one that uses the dreamlike nature of reality, whether asleep or awake, as an aid to wake up – to become lucid and to become enlightened. As we shall see, lucidity and enlightenment are not the same.

This site addresses three different types of dream yogas in particular: Tibetan Dream Yoga, lucid dreaming, and Integral Deep Listening. The purpose of Tibetan Buddhism is to awaken out of the delusion of the dream of life so as to become enlightened. To this end, it emphasizes a dream yoga which includes lucid dreaming. This ancient tradition has developed sophisticated strategies for awakening while asleep so that one can experience the expansive freedom that accompanies waking up out of self-created delusion. There is a second type of dream yoga, which tends to be more secular and humanistic in nature. It simply explores the nature of lucid dreaming, how to do it, and how to get the most out of it. Integral Deep Listening (IDL) is a third type of dream yoga. While the first two emphasize lucid dreaming, IDL emphasizes lucid living, that is, awakening from your self-created life dream, whether asleep or awake.

This site is therefore divided into three parts, each one committed to an exploration of each of these approaches to awakening. The blog provides examples of IDL dream yoga.

The Yoga Sutras were written by Patanjali about 2000 years ago and are the classical text on yoga. He provides a very narrow definition of yoga as “…the control of thought-waves in the mind.” (Prabhavananda and Isherwood). Judge’s translation says, “Concentration, or Yoga, is the hindering of the modifications of the thinking principle.” Feurerstein, who Wilber holds in high esteem, has it as, “the restriction of the whirls of consciousness,” (citta-vritti-nirodha). Patanjali’s definition of yoga is narrow even by classical Hindu standards. Many highly respected sources within Hinduism do not embrace Patanjali’s understanding of yoga. His definition is best understood as referring to one particular type of yoga, raja yoga, and is in itself one of a number of legitimate definitions of that particular branch or “limb” of yoga. For example, another classical text, very widely recognized as authoritative, the Bhagavad Gita, defines yoga as three separate paths, karma yoga, the path of action, bhakti yoga, the path of devotion, and jnana yoga, the path of knowledge. Much more broadly still, another classical Indian text, Yoga Bija, (84) states, “Yoga is said to be the unification of the web of dualities.” Another, the Yoga-Yajnavalkya, states, “Yoga is the union of the individual psyche with the transcendental Self.” (1.44)

Buddha, however, also subscribed to a narrow definition of yoga. He said, “To enjoy good health, to bring true happiness to one’s family, to bring peace to all, one must first discipline and control one’s own mind. If a man can control his mind he can find the way to enlightenment, and all wisdom and virtue will naturally come to him.”

Within Hinduism, the Sanskrit term yoga is most frequently interpreted as “union” of the individual self (jiva-atman) with the supreme Self (parama-atman.), as the two quotes above do. This is a Vedantic interpretation, which means it is mainstream Hinduism. But Patanjali believed in dualism, not oneness. He embraced a system of Indian metaphysics called Samkhya, which teaches a strict dualism between Spirit (purusha) and matter (prakriti). In short, in contrast to most classical interpretations of yoga, Patanjali does not see yoga as concerning union: “In Patanjali’s Yoga-Sutra, the basic scripture of Classical Yoga, there is no mention of a union with the transcendental Reality as the ultimate target of the yogic endeavor. Given Patanjali’s dualist metaphysics, which strictly separates the transcendental Self from Nature (prakriti) and its products, this would not even make any sense. (The Yoga Tradition, Feuerstein, p. 4)

The problem is that when you set up your world in dualistic terms of good and bad, right and wrong, being in control and being out of control, you are going to exclude a lot of perspectives, people, and legitimate spiritual activities. Such exclusivity is usually an early personal life stance masquerading as something more evolved and more enlightened. It is not a transpersonal perspective, because spirit transcends and includes everything, including “involuntary mind.” To inhibit it is to inhibit yourself, which means to wage perpetual war on yourself. Inhibition, in and of itself, is not a very loving or spiritual approach, although it can indeed produce samadhi as a state. However, it does not by itself produce samadhi as a stabilized level of development. This having been said, there is merit to Patanjali’s basic position, in that no serious work EVER gets done unless we exclude distractions. Exclusivity is an essential element in the antithetical stage of the developmental dialectic, which is how spirit manifests in and through form. Yet another way of saying this is that exclusivity, inhibition in the name of purification are necessary yet not sufficient vehicles for enlightenment.

A multitude of yogic traditions have thrived within Hinduism. These include Raja, Hatha, Jnana, Bhakti, Karma, Mantra, Kundalini, Tantra, and Laya yogas. Each of these approaches claims to be the “real” or the “true” yoga. Of late, Ayurveda and all things Deepak Chropraish have sought to claim this title. While Integral Deep Listening is another form of Dream Yoga whose purpose is oneness with the divine, it does not claim either superiority or exclusivity, because to do so would be to contradict one of its fundamental suppositions, that multiple perspectives are necessary and legitimate and that some of these transcend and include others. In other words, there are prepersonal, personal, and transpersonal approaches to each and every one of these yogas. Personal approaches are superior to prepersonal approaches, because they transcend and include them. Transpersonal approaches are superior to personal approaches, for the same reason.

All of these yogas are found in roughly parallel manifestations throughout the sacred traditions of the world. For example, within historical Chinese culture, Confucianism is a path of unifying with the will of Heaven, T’ien, through following the Way, or Tao of truth through social propriety, li, and can be viewed as a form of karma yoga. In Taoism, the “inner elixer,” or nei-tan, is purified so that it can be liberated from identification with the body, through various breath practices that are similar to those found in kundalini yoga and concentration practices similar to those found in raja yoga. You cannot cultivate your chi if you let your jing leak away. Islamic mysticism, including but hardly limited to Sufism, is primarily a form of bhakti yoga, based on passages in the Qur’an emphasizing the centrality of love of God, mahabbah, that was introduced by Rabi’a in the 8th century. Neo-Hassidism within Judaism emphasizes worship through joy, sincha, service, avodah, and purpose, kavanah. These correlate with bhakti, karma, and raja yogas.

Like Hinduism, Tibetan Buddhism has a rich yogic tradition. Sometimes called Vajrayana, Tibetan Mahayana Buddhism provides multiple varieties of each and every one of these yogic traditions. For example, instead of references to Kundalini, as occur in laya yoga, reference is made to the red and white subtle “drops” (tigle) in the navel and head chakras respectively which integrate in the heart chakra. Through the dissolution of these drops and of various subtle winds (vayu) in the central channel of the spine one attains the Clear Light. Vajrayana recommends special concentrative, visualization, breathing, mantra, and mudra practices in the context of the eightfold path and in the purpose of attaining sunyata, or emptiness. It generally portrays itself as the integration and transcendence of all yogas. Tibetan yogis are called “lamas,” and they are spiritual adepts, just as Hindu yogis are. Two classics edited by W.Y. Evans-Wentz, Tibet’s Great Yogi, Milarepa, and Tibetan Yoga and Secret Doctrines, in particular give the lie to the statement that yogis aren’t interested in their dreams. Among other things, they describe classical Tibetan dream yoga as practiced by yogis. The purpose of this Tibetan dream yoga is to learn to “wake up” in your dreams as a way to learn to “wake up” while awake, from the dream of life. While Integral Deep Listening does not emphasize lucid dreaming as much as does Tibetan dream yoga as it is taught by say, Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche in The Tibetan Yogas of Dream and Sleep, it honors, understands, and respects this sacred and important form of yoga.

If a traditional yoga views dreams and dreaming as illusory, then they are distractions to be ignored (makyo within Zen); if dreams are seen as sources of spiritual direction they are to be interpreted and followed, as Milarepa does within the Tibetan tradition and Joseph does within the Hebraic tradition; if they are seen as a tool for enlightenment, then one undertakes a particular practice while dreaming and/or with the material of the recalled dream. Vajrayana provides the best example of the former while Integral Deep Listening focuses on the latter. Like Tibetan Buddhism as well, Integral Deep Listening also views dream material as worthy of being interpreted and followed, but views the most valuable interpretations and injunctions as coming from self-aspects, not from waking identity or others.

Like both Hinduism and Buddhism, Integral Deep Listening holds as a basic principle that life is a dream of our own creation, called maya. Investment in the reality of this dream is a misinterpretation that causes suffering, called karma. The very reason why one undertakes any yoga in the first place is to wake up out of this dream. The illusion and delusion that is inherently associated with believing that we are awake when we are actually asleep and dreaming causes suffering. We may define the waking up process as union of Atman with Brahman, as does Vedanta, or we may define it as the inhibition of the mind as does Patanjali, or we may define it as the cessation of identification with any and all definitions of self, as do most schools of Buddhism, but basically these are distinctions in the path, not disagreements about the purpose of the path itself. The goal is awakening or enlightenment, whether called samadhi, nirvana, or something else. The goal is to wake up.

The “dream” in Integral Deep Listening is about the dream of life, of which our night time dreams are merely one subset. It is a practice of successively owning whatever is not self. If I think being out of control is “not self,” which Patanjali clearly did, then Integral Deep Listening would help me to expand my sense of self to encompass being out of control. If I think having a narrow definition of enlightenment that excludes dreams and dreaming is best, then Integral Deep Listening will help me to understand that I am only excluding parts of myself and thereby waging perpetual war internally in the name of spiritual development. If I think that Integral Deep Listening is such a broad inclusivity as to be meaningless, then the actual experience of becoming other self-aspects will cybernetically self-correct this misperception of what InListening is.

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