Comparing IDL and Lucid Dreaming


Waking up, or becoming lucid, is a good thing.  However, what we do once we are awake makes a very big difference.  For example, conceivably you could become awake enough to control your blood pressure, your heart beat, and your digestion, but is that a necessary or a good thing?  Is more control always better than less?  The conclusion of IDL is that no, it is not.  For example, if you attempted to consciously control your digestion you would probably starve; it’s too complicated, and your body does it better than you could.

There is a common assumption among those seeking dream lucidity that lucid dreaming is always a good thing.  Consider for a moment who is in control once you become lucid.  Your stuck, confused, delusional waking sense of self now has a greater ability to change or control your dream landscape, always for its benefit, which means generally to its greater detriment.  By analogy, it is similar to Christian Westerners thinking that they could bring salvation and civilization to “primitives” when they basically colonized peoples.  The result was mayhem and mass suffering due to grandiosity and narcissism rationalizing great selfishness.

If course, colonizers never see themselves in those terms; chances are you have never considered lucid dreaming from the perspective of the inhabitants of the land you want to control.  When you learn IDL, that will change.

Your waking sense of self doesn’t understand anything any better just because it is lucid.  It is not automatically more empathetic, wise, compassionate, or accepting.  It’s just more free to use its lucidity to change, repress, avoid, and control better, if it so chooses.  You will observe this tendency in many lucid dreamers who can create literal dream experiences of flying, meetings with masters, going to other dimensions, or having cosmic sex.  They may then believe, and pronounce to others, that these experiences are real, when in fact they are a product of their own waking desires and intentions, which are now expressed while lucid in the dream state.  However, they remain stuck in their own limited waking world view, out of which they perceive lucid dream events.  Your limited waking world view doesn’t magically transform just because you are lucid.  Whether your perspective is that of Tibetan Dream Yoga, or of some other approach, it is still a limited waking world view that probably has little to do with the preferences, priorities, and perspectives of your own internal community.

Dream monsters, fires, confusion, or other deeply disturbing or trivial dream events are not problems to be eliminated.  There are not, as most traditions hold, “illusory” dreams and “true” dreams.  They are all true; the problem is with the perceiver, not the dream.  The problem is with you, not with the fact that you are not lucid in the dream.  The problem is that your waking sense of self misperceives regardless of what state it is in. This is because your waking perspective is partial; it assumes that it reflects the interests of your entire being, but how would you know?  How many other aspects of your inner self have you asked?  If you do learn to interview a representative cross-section on an ongoing basis, you can be assured that you will discover that indeed, your waking identity, regardless of how advanced and enlightened it considers itself to be, does not represent the interests of the broad majority of your greater identity.  This is indeed a problem, because such internal divisions contribute to your unhappiness and death.  Because of this fact, the focus of Integral Deep Listening is on waking up your sense of self in all states, not simply on dream lucidity, which is at best one process of doing so in one state.  The dream that you will wake up out of as you practice Integral Deep Listening is your dream of who you are and what your life is, whether you are awake or dreaming.  Dream lucidity comes naturally as you wake up now, as who you are.

Dream lucidity often means that you aren’t listening to a dream; instead you are changing it and colonizing it with your waking consciousness.  The exception is if you meditate in a dream or simply are awake and aware in a dream and observe.   IDL strongly endorses both of these approaches to lucid dreaming, regardless of who teaches them.

With IDL, you wake up, or become lucid, by interviewing other parts of yourself that do not share your waking stuckness.  You will find that many that you interview are much less stuck than you are in many significant life dimensions.  You will learn to interview dream characters both while awake and while dreaming. You will also learn to interview personifications of your life issues while awake.  By doing so you will internalize of “become” aspects of yourself that are not stuck where you are.  Consequently, your sense of who you are will expand.  Your chronically delusional waking identity will slowly heal, balance, and transform as you apply the concrete life recommendations supplied by these self-aspects.  Slowly, your sense of who you are will wake up.  Slowly you become more lucid in any and every state that you are in, without needing to force change or control any waking or dream event.

Tibetan Dream Yoga and dream lucidity use the dream state to leverage this process of waking up.  Lucid dreaming is sexy.  It has cache.  The ability to lucid dream reassures you that you are special and different and not as stuck as everyone else, when every lucid dreamer knows that in truth they are.  For those that feel trapped in the mundane circumstances of their lives,  or in a limited, aging, or sick body, lucid dreaming can bring new freedom. Despite these and other benefits, the ability to lucid dream in and of itself signifies nothing in terms of spiritual development.  We know this because children and criminals can have lucid dreams.  Lucid dreaming is an aptitude or skill.  We all know people who are very confused and out of balance who have amazing aptitudes and skills.  However, any approach to lucid dreaming that helps you learn to be in a meditative state while dreaming and/or to be a better listener to the wake-up calls that are to be found there, is valuable, regardless of what else it teaches.

IDL uses listening to the wake-up calls that our lives present to us in the form of life issues, health issues, “accidents,” dreams, nightmares, and interpersonal relationships to become lucid. From the perspective of spirit, they are all dream events.  It is unlikely that spirit discriminates like we do between waking and dreaming delusional states.  IDL encourages lucid dreaming as a subset of a broader, more general, and more important waking up process.  This is why IDL is a dream yoga.

Tibetan Buddhism, along with just about every other tradition, religious and otherwise, interprets dreams.  IDL holds that while dream interpretation is generally harmless, it slows down the process of waking up and can be positively detrimental to it, for a number of reasons:

• Your interpretations are generally wrong because they are partial.

• How do you know if other’s interpretations of your dream are correct?  This includes dream dictionaries, psychics, and spiritual teachers.

• Dream characters are symbols no more than you are a symbol.

• Dreams don’t require interpretation.  They require listening and application of what you hear.

• You can make disastrous life decisions based on wrong interpretations.

• When your interpretations don’t work you can distrust dreams and deride dreaming as delusional instead of recognizing that your interpretations and the projections of the interpreter are the problem.

For more information on these and other related topics, see IDL Essays.

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