Dream addition

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Posted by Mister hebat ( on September 04, 2000 at 11:54:54:

In Reply to: Has this dream some spiritual meaning? posted by Marianne Uhrendorf alias Mangalananda on August 31, 2000 at 17:25:30:

Jung and Junti
Dreams West and East
By Rev. Heng Sure

Junti Bodhisattva
In graduate school, I wanted to look deeper into my dreams so I joined a Jungian
dream circle in Berkeley. A group of ten dreamers kept journals and told our
dreams to each other. The group was moderated by a Jungian analyst who dispensed
insightful guidelines for us to use on our own. The experience was moderately
enlightening; my dreams became a wider door to enter and explore for
self-knowledge. Later I was thrilled to discover discussion of dreams in the
Buddhist texts I was translating. The excitement was initially short-lived,
because the sutras said, “Dreams are false and illusory.” Trying to build a
bridge the West to the East and merge Jung’s ideas with the Buddha’s approach to
dreams was, no matter how unwise, nearly irresistible. Both Jung and the Buddha
were consummate psychotherapists, both were compassionate and practical teachers
of dreamers. The major difference seems to be that Jung lacked religious faith;
he was bound by his senses and he saw dreams as a means of achieving peace and
psychic wholeness in this life. Dreams for Jung opened a door into the
individuated Self. For the Buddha, dreams opened a door into the ultimately
empty and selfless nature of all dharmas. This emptying out of the self in turn
made possible the liberating vision of Great Compassion, which sees all beings
as sharing the same body and substance.
We know how the Buddha and certain Indian Buddhists in the past dealt with their
dreams because detailed writings still exist in the scriptures and commentaries.
This article will present a section from a particular Buddhist scripture, The
Sutra on the Junti Bodhisattva Dharani, Spoken by the Mother of Seven Kotis of
Buddhas (T.1077), which lists specific dream images. To put the Buddhist
treatment in context, I will present dream categories from a Buddhist
commentary, the Great Perfection of Wisdom Sutra, called the Ta Chih Tu Lun, (T.
1509) “The Great Wisdom That Crosses Over,” by Nagarjuna Bodhisattva (dates
uncertain), and his Chinese translator, Venerable Kumarajiva (343-413 CE).
Nagarjuna explains the Buddha’s wisdom-texts by drawing from an encyclopedic
knowledge of the traditional lore of Indian culture, customs and literature. His
presentation of dreams represents the available knowledge of third and fourth
century India. After translating and investigating some of the methods that
appear in the Junti Sutra and the Ta Chih Tu Lun, I will present some of the
material the ancients passed down surrounding dreams and draw some conclusions.
I will mention only in passing the ideas of Carl Jung regarding the value and
the purpose of dream analysis. The exercise can make the dream-wisdom of the
ancients relevant to us who seek to awaken today.
Part One: Two Methods of Dealing with Dreams
A. European Approach to Dreams
It is said that the Swiss psychologist Carl Jung in his lifetime analyzed over
80,000 dreams–. Dreams for Jung played an important complementary role in the
psyche. The general function of a dream is to try to restore our psychological
balance by producing material that reestablishes, in a subtle way, the total
psychic equilibrium. Jung approached dreams as living realities that must be
experienced and observed carefully to be understood. He considered Freud’s
method of “free association” as incomplete. “Free association will bring out all
your complexes, but hardly ever the meaning of a dream. To understand the
dream’s meaning, I must stick as close as possible to the dream images.” During
analysis, Jung kept asking the dreamer, “What does the dream say?”
One answer comes from Jeremy Taylor, a well-known authority on Jungian dream
work who postulates five basic assumptions about dreams: 1) that all dreams come
in the service of health and wholeness; 2) that no dream come simply to tell the
dreamer what he or she already knows; 3) that only the dreamer can say with
certainty what meanings a dream may hold; 4) that there is no such thing as a
dream with only one meaning; and 5) that all dreams speak a universal language,
a language of metaphor and symbol. The thrust of Taylor’s and Jung’s approach to
dreams is individual-centered, a particularly Western concern. For
serious-minded seekers of truth via dream-work the Jungian approach helps you
puzzle out the integration of your individual psyche with the analyst as best
you can, for a happier and more fulfilled life in this world. This goal is,
nonetheless, far more sophisticated than the superficial “good and bad fortune”
question that the great majority of people in the world ask their dreams.
B. An Indian Approach to Dreams
When Buddhists in India dreamed they dealt with their dreams in a variety of
ways. Certain types of dreams occurred frequently enough to the ancients to
merit listing as separate categories for dream-analysis. The categories show the
following different kinds of dreams. The most distinctive use, for Buddhists,
1) seeing dreams as a simile for emptiness, sunyata, the ultimate nature of
all things.
2) seeing dreams as portents of things to come, which overlapped with
another type of dream:
3) as messages or teaching by the gods, spirits or bodhisattva.
4) Buddhists in India and in China thought, like Freud and Jung, that it was
possible to diagnose aspects of the dreamer’s mental and physical health
from the symbols of dreams.
5) The theoretical psychology school of Buddhism, the Vijnanavada
(“Consciousness-only”) school called dreams “monkey-sleep,” a function of
the “isolated mind-consciousness”.
6) Buddhist psychologists saw dreams as the return at night of things
thought on during the day.
7) Finally, Nagarjuna explained dreams as a standard for testing the quality
of a bodhisattva’s vows.
Dreams appear in the earliest Buddhist writings, and played no less an important
role in Buddhism than in our lives today. Being human, Buddhists have always
slept; and when asleep, they dream. While dreaming they perceived the same
disembodied shadows and disconnected images as we do. After waking they sought
the meaning of their dreams. The diviners and prognosticators of India and
China, being culture-bound individuals, interpreted the dreams according to the
modes and methods available to them. Those methods were in some respects
suggestive of methods used today, in some respects they were quite different.
Dreams are very democratic; both rich and poor alike dream at night. But when
trying to analyze what dreams meant, it is important to know who the dreamer
was. The educated, literate, elite certainly had more options in their systems
of dream analysis. Dreams could be messages from ancestors and Sages more often
for a prince or a scholar because they had a concept of history. Uneducated
individuals seemed to turn to formula-books of ready-made dream interpretations
to explain the symbols of dreams. Generic do-it-yourself recipes, such as Aunt
Sally’s Dream Book and Horoscope Love Advisor that we find at the supermarket
check-out counter had its counterpart in most cultures. Dream interpretation
formulas answer some superficial questions, to be sure, but they tend to center
on love, money, and bad luck. Nagarjuna’s Ta Chih Tu Lun gives us the following
important patterns that occur regularly in dreams:
1. Dreams as a simile for emptiness.
The most common use of dreams in the literature of the Mahayana, or “Northern
School” of Buddhism in China, Tibet, Japan, Korea, and Vietnam is to see dreams
as a simile for sunyata, (emptiness) the hollow core at the heart of all
component dharmas (things). For example, in the well-known Vajra (Diamond)
Sutra, the Buddha taught that:
“All conditioned dharmas, are like a dream, like an illusion, like a bubble,
like a shadow, like a dewdrop, like a lightening flash; you should
contemplate them thus.”
Dreams symbolize the changing and impermanent nature of all things known to the
senses. Sights, sounds, smells, flavors, sensations of touch and thoughts are
all dream-like, fleeting, and ultimately unobtainable. By pursuing and grasping
material things or ephemeral states, we create the causes for misery and
suffering. Those desire-objects are not real and permanent. When they break up
and move on, we will experience grief, if we can’t let go. The hallmark of
living beings is that we are “sleeping, “ unawakened to the truth of the
emptiness and impermanence at the nature of conditioned things. This covering of
sleep and lack of awareness is called “ignorance,” and it makes us in our waking
state, from the Buddha’s viewpoint, look as if we are dreaming.
Bubbles burst, shadows run from light, dewdrops vanish by noon without a trace,
lightning roars and vanishes, and dreams leave us at dawn. To continually
perceive such things as real locks us into the endless cycle of birth and death.
The Buddha was not simply giving us an evocative metaphor, a literary device or
a philosophical point. He felt related to all beings, and in his compassion he
was pointing out to his family a way to escape the prolonged misery of
affliction and death. The dream simile occurs over and over in the sutras to
teach about emptiness.
In the Ta Chih Tu Lun dreams occur as a didactic teaching device. Sariputra, the
foremost Arhat in wisdom, learns the true application of the emptiness theory
through the simile of dreams. Dreams are like ordinary waking reality in that
both are empty and false. There is nothing gained by seeking out or clinging to
any thought or mark that distinguishes the two states.
With the exception of message-dreams and portent dreams, two categories that we
will look at below, for the Buddha’s monastic disciples who were intent on
cultivating the mind full-time, dreams were considered as illusory and false, no
different from the illusions of waking-time reality.
2. Message-dreams or teaching by the gods, spirits or Bodhisattvas;
Dreams can be a message from a Bodhisattva, an ancestor, or a god, The intent of
the dream may be to test the dreamer’s resolve: is he non-retreating
(avaivartika) from Bodhi (enlightenment) even when sleeping? The purpose of the
dream visit may be to communicate information vital to the dreamer’s well-being.
The Buddha himself had five dreams of catastrophes, falling stars and worlds in
collision just before his enlightenment. The dreams were sent to him not by a
benevolent Dharma-protector, but by an malevolent sorcerer, intent on disrupting
the Buddha’s samadhi and preventing his awakening.
3. Prescient or Portent Dreams
Prescient or portent dreams that predict the future are the only category of
dreams that the ancients considered real or valuable in itself. Based on the
records we have, it seems that dreamers in the past wanted to know more or less
what dreamers want to know now: whether their dream augured good luck or
misfortune. The office of dream diviner was esteemed, and nobility and commoner
alike, waking after a dreamy sleep, sought to know the meaning of their dreams.
4. Aspects of the dreamer’s physical and mental health
Although according to the sutras, dreams were considered ultimately false,
Indian Buddhists also used dreams as an aid to diagnosing the dreamer’s state of
health. According to ancient Indian Ayurvedic medical systems, dreams of fire
indicate an imbalance of the fire element, dreams of flying indicate an excess
of water, etc. This methods of diagnosis suggest similarities with Chinese dream
interpretation systems found in one of the earliest Chinese medical texts, the
Yellow Emperor’s Classic of Internal Medicine. (Huang Ti Nei Ching Su Wen). The
symbols of the dream have value as indicators of health or illness.
5. “Monkey-sleep,” a function of the isolated consciousness;”
The Consciousness-only School (Vijnanavada) looked into the nature of mental
phenomena. That school assigned the function of dreams to a part of the mind
they called the “solitary intellectual consciousness.” Dreams share that
classification with insanity, twilight sleep, “monkey-sleep” the marginal
consciousness of drowsiness, and the mind in samadhi.
6. The return in dreams of things experienced during the day
Dreams were understood from a psychological perspective, as a replaying of the
contents of consciousness. What the dreamer experienced during the day could
return at night as a dream image. Dreams, although considered as empty and false
can still produce a physical reaction, as when a dream-vision of a romantic
encounter can produce a wet-dream in sleep.
7. A standard for testing the quality of a cultivator’s vows
Dream visions of suffering, such as the sight of beings in the hells will move a
true Bodhisattva to make compassionate vows to rescue those beings. Great
Bodhisattvas would sometimes send dreams on purpose to novice Bodhisattvas, to
stimulate them to make the great Bodhi Resolve. If a Bodhisattva cultivates
compassion in a dream, then the dream vision of rescuing from suffering may
return to him when he/she is awake. The dream reminds the Bodhisattva of his
ability to endure suffering on behalf of others. Since dreams and waking are
thought to be the same, then the Bodhisattva gets inspired to repeat his
dream-performance during the day. In light of the Perfection of Wisdom, the
theory of emptiness is merely a raft, an expedient device to help us ford the
river of suffering ourselves and to then to help others attain bliss.
Dream interpretation as an index to the integration of one’s character, dreams
as clues to mental health, or as the high road to self-understanding was not
unknown, but seems to have been, as it is today, an answer to a question that
relatively few people were asking.
The category of dreams as a test of the dreamer’s good roots is evidenced by the
Junti Bodhisattva’s Sutra. Now we will look at a selection from the sutra that
deals with dreams.
Panels from the Ta Chih Tu Lun: These illustrations show the back (left) and
front (right) of a mirror.
Junti Bodhisattva is shown on the back of the mirror. This is the first time
these images have been published.
Part Two: A Section From the Junti Bodhisattva Sutra on Dreams
The Junti Dharani Sutra, Spoken by the Mother of Seven Kotis of Buddhas Thus I
have heard, at one time, at one time, the Bhagavan was in the city of Sravasti,
In the Jeta Grove, in the Garden of the Orphans and the Solitary, together with
a great gathering of Bhikshus, and Bodhisattvas, as well as the gods, dragons,
and the Eight-fold Pantheon, who encircled him on all sides. Out of sympathy and
pity for living beings of future times, who will be poor in blessings and full
of bad karma, he entered into the Junti Samadhi and spoke a mantra that came
from the mother of seven ages of Buddhas of the past. The mantra runs like this:

Na Mwo, Sa Dwo Nan, San Myau San Pu Two, Jyu Jr Nan, Da Jr Two, Nan, Je Li
Ju Li Jun Ti, Swo Pe He.
If there are Bodhisattvas among the clergy or the laity who commit the heaviest
of offenses for limitless eons, even be it the Ten Evil Deeds, the Four
Unpardonable Offense, the Five Cardinal Sins, and offenses that merit
retributions, if they cultivate the practice of reciting and holding mantras,
and can recite this mantra fully 900,000 times, all such offenses will be wiped
away. Wherever they live, they will meet the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas, they will
enjoy abundant wealth, and will meet many opportunities to leave the home life
and enter the Sangha.
If they are Bodhisattva’s practicing at home, and their cultivation of the moral
precepts is firm and non-retreating, should they recite this Dharani, they will
always be reborn in the heavens. If they appear in the human realm they will
always be part of the kings clan. They will avoid falling into the evil
destinies and will get to draw near worthy sages. They will be revered and
respected by the Devas, who will protect them and bless them. If they get
involved with worldly matters, they will not encounter disasters. Their
appearance will be proper and handsome, their voice majestic and calming. Their
mind will be free of worry.
If the person is a Bodhisattva among the Sangha, they will be replete with pure
precepts. They will recite sutras in the three periods of the day and they will
practice the Dharma as it is taught. The Siddhis (states) that they seek in this
life will appear before them in samadhi and wisdom. They will realize the (Ten)
Stages and the (Six) Paramitas will be complete. they will certify straight-away
to Unsurpassed, Right and Equal Bodhi.
If they recite this mantra ten thousand times, then in their dreams they will
see the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas, and they will dream that they spit out a black
substance. Even if the dreamer has committed serious karmic offenses, and they
can recite the mantra twenty thousand times, they will see the heavens and the
celestial monasteries and halls, or perhaps they will see themselves climbing a
tall mountain, or climbing a tree; or see themselves bathing in a large pool; or
see themselves soaring aloft; or playing together with maidens from the heavens;
or see themselves speaking Dharma, or shaving away hair and beard, or eating
“milk-rice”; or see themselves drinking white sweet dew. They may in a dream see
themselves crossing a great ocean or river or stream; or ascending a
lion’s-throne; they may see a Bodhi-tree; or see themselves riding a boat.
They may see a Shramana, or a layman, or a white-robed person wearing a yellow
turban. Or maybe they will see the sun and moon, or virgin lads and maiden
girls, or see a ripe fruit tree over head. They may see a black-hued hero whose
mouth spits out flames and smoke, and in a struggle with him, they emerge
victorious. He may see an evil-tempered horse or cow, that wants to gore him.
The mantra recitor, whether he hits or scolds, will cause the animal to run in
fear. Or he may see himself eating milk-porridge or butter-porridge, or he may
see Sumana Flowers, or a vision of a king. If someone fails to dream of visions
such as these, you should know that this person in a past life committed the
five cardinal sins. He then should recite anew, 700,000 times and then these
visions will occur to him. Then he can be assured that his karma has been
dispelled. Once the karma is over, he will accomplish the former practices. If
he then paints an image according to the Dharma, and as is appropriate to the
Dharma, makes offerings to it either three times or four times or six times,
seeking mundane or world-transcending siddhis, up to and including Unsurpassed
Bodhi, all such wishes will be completely fulfilled.
A) Discussion of The Junti Sutra
The Junti Sutra is based on a Bodhisattva’s vows. The purpose of the Sutra is to
provide an expedient method to erase evil karma and to create good roots. Junti
is a powerful, compassionate Bodhisattva who lives in the heavens and is known
primarily by the mantra that is associated with his/her name. Like Bodhisattva
Guan Yin (Japan: Kannon, or Tibet: Chen Re Zi), Junti Bodhisattva’s iconography
shows many hands and eyes, each one holding a tool for crossing over the
afflictions of living beings. Like Gwan Shr Yin, Junti’s image transcends
gender. Neither male or female, Junti blends both compassion and courage. Junti
is called the “mother of seven kotis (myriads) of Buddhas.” In many respects
Junti’s practice seems to belong to the esoteric, Vajrayana school, in fact her
great compassion makes her a favorite of the Mahayana School as well. Junti
explains dreams, and Buddhists turn to her to find out what last nights reverie
Junti explains dreams in connection with a mantra that is associated with her
Dharma-door. Mantras are sounds of power, seed-syllables spoken in
Buddha-language. When you recite any of the syllables , for instance, Om
(Chinese. “nan”) or Namah (Chinese. “namo”) the sound acts like a password, like
a command, to grant any positive wish. The spiritual beings associated with that
syllable act on your behalf to do your bidding. Mantra-sounds were said by the
ancients to have the power to create or destroy. There are certainly positive,
“white magic” mantras, as well as not so wholesome, “black magic” spells. Junti
Bodhisattva’s mantra is decidedly wholesome and positive. When one recites her
mantra, If the reciter’s mind is pure and unselfish, Junti guarantees that the
desired results will come to pass.
The sutra exists because the Buddha Shakyamuni knew about the vows made by Junti
Bodhisattva. Out of compassion, the Buddha spoke the mantra. He knew that living
beings in the future (i.e., us, now) will have spent our bank account of
blessings and will pile up bad karma. By judicious and vigorous use of the
mantra’s power we can reshape our karmic balance, reverse the debit of evil
retribution, and engineer a future of blessings, wisdom, and happiness.
The connection with dreams occurs with the teaching that whoever recites the
mantra the right number of times will be able to eradicate bad karma. The sutra
gives us dream symbols that will be seen by one who recites Junti Bodhisattva’s
mantra. Heavy, bad karma can obstruct a person and prevent the vision of the
dreams. Once the person cultivates the mantra and neutralizes the bad karma, the
dream symbols should appear.
We need to recite or “hold” the mantra over and over from Na Mwo to Swo He.
Junti’s mantra is to be recited while visualizing its Sanskrit letters revolving
on a two-sided metal mirror. One side is Sanskrit devanagari writing, the other
side is Chinese characters that represent the sounds.
Dreams are the sign that indicates the invisible balance of good and evil on our
karma-ledger. The dreams symbols that the Buddha lists include visions of
purging, bathing, good companions, transformation from defilement to purity,
passage over boundaries, ascending in space and climbing mountains. One sees the
eating of pure foods, healing, auspicious visions of nature, escape from danger,
and scenes of beauty. The feelings that accompany the dreams will be completely
soothing, there will be a sense of blissful relief, free of anxiety, alarm and
Among the types of dreams that we found listed in the Ta Chih Tu Lun, the series
of dream images that appear in the Junti Sutra clearly belong to the category of
dreams that index good roots, and show the dreamer’s state of cultivation. By
using the Dharma-door of the mantra, one puts the beneficial and pure sound of
the mantra in one’s mouth and ear; one visualizes the symbols of the letters in
one’s eye. One brings the compassionate energy of the Bodhisattva into one’s
mind and plants the ancient seed-sounds in the eighth consciousness. The power
of the mantra neutralizes evil, transforms it to good and brings about healing
in the mind, which is the source of good and bad karma. This is a transcendent
use of dreams. Dreams become an expedient means to aid one’s spiritual progress
towards Buddhahood, and ultimate liberation.
B) A Comparison of Western and Eastern Methods
Carl Jung believed that because the dream deals with symbols that have more than
one meaning, there can be no simple, mechanical system for dream interpretation.
All attempts at dream analysis must take into account the attitudes, experiences
and background of the dreamer. It is a joint venture between dreamer and
analyst. The dreamer interprets the dream with the help and guidance of the
analyst. The analyst may be vitally helpful, but in the end only the dreamer can
know what the dream means. We may wind up frustrated if we expect the Buddhist's
use of dreams in the Junti Bodhisattva Sutra to reflect a Jungian approach.
I present the sutra in the context of a Buddhist method that was in vogue seven
centuries after the Buddha spoke the sutra. This method is closer in time to his
culture and steeped in the culture of monastic cultivation, but not given only
to the monk or nun. The challenge to contemporary analysis is to search out the
kind of questions a Buddhist might ask of these dreams.
If the list of images from the Junti Bodhisattva Sutra were to appear to a
dreamer in analysis with Jung or Taylor, the Western analysts would likely
investigate the meaning of each symbol with the dreamer. They would attempt to
map out the shadow, the anima/animus, the self and the various archetypes of the
unconscious as they emerge over a lengthy series of encounters. Ultimately, like
Jung himself, at life’s end one may have a highly auspicious dream that augurs
an individuated character and a rebirth in the desired heaven.
I find the Buddhist use of dreams profound and broad in scope. No matter how
well we intellectually grasp the patterns and the symbols of the unconscious, if
our karma is still as heavy as before we began to discuss the dream, then no
matter how thoroughly we penetrate the dream-symbols, we will still be turning
on the wheel of rebirth, bound to endless rounds of suffering. Buddhist dream
analysis says that the images of dreams themselves are empty and false; but
properly understood, they can serve as another door to liberation.
The Sutra includes a fail-safe; if one follows the Buddha’s formula and does the
right number of recitations, and it doesn’t seem to work; i.e., the dreams don’t
come, then the Buddha gives a power-booster. Paint or draw an image of Junti
Bodhisattva (I will leave it to the reader to judge whether pixel-based
computer-drawn or painted images qualify) and then make offerings to the image
(virtual offerings probably show less sincerity) three, four, or six times a day
of pure vegetarian food (pure means no killing involved) and along with the
requisite recitations. The for certain all the good results that one seeks, up
to the realization of Buddha-hood will come to pass.
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.
Marie Louise von Franz, Dreams. Boston, Shambala, 1969.
Jeremy Taylor, Where People Fly and Water Runs Uphill: Using dreams to Tap the
Wisdom of the Unconscious, New York: Warner Books, 1992.
Rev. Heng Sure is a doctoral candidate in religion at the Graduate Theological
Union. He was ordained as a Buddhist Bhikshu at the City of Ten Thousand
Buddhas, in Talmage, California, in 1976.

Revised: 12-29-96
Copyright © 1996 CyberSangha: The Buddhist Alternative Journal

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